Sunday, October 08, 2006

Busy week

I'm not sure how long I can write or how coherent I can be. It's Sunday evening, and it's been a busy week. The busy-ness may be over in terms of my duties, but I'm not quite sure, and in any case, I can hardly believe it.

It's the first week of term, the full schedule. And it's just been very busy. I've had very little unscheduled time, even time that was "work" time that usually has some flexibility to it has been pretty full of things that just had to get done. And today ... well, I'm just tired. I have to say, though, that I've enjoyed the regular sitting meditation time -- it feels good overall to be back at it.

I've been up at 5am every day since Wednesday. I did take a little nap, I think it was Wednesday or Thursday, in the afternoon, but all other days I've just been going all day until 10pm or later. Tuesday evening I was suddenly leading a seminary class that I am taking, because the regular teacher was out of state (Gyokuko, in California with Kyogen's father), and the backup teacher called at 6pm to cancel (the class starts after 7pm sitting at about 7:45). It went fine, though I wasn't exactly prepared to actually teach, but I did some business, registration stuff first, did a little general discussion in the class about people's experiences in reading the first assignment, and then followed suggestions from the backup teacher, which mostly consisted of reading an introduction to the sutra out loud. We're studying the last chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra, also known as the Flower Ornament Scripture.

Wednesday evening we had our regular class, and I did the audio recording for it. Thursday evening I attended the sitting and talk with Zen Community Oregon (ZCO). Friday evening we had a special showing of "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's movie about global warming. There's a national organization called Interfaith Power and Light that got DVDs to about 5,000 congregations of various faiths across the country to show this week. We had about 50 people show up to see the movie, which is really good, very well done, and we also had a geophysicist who works with climate change come to introduce the movie and lead a discussion afterwards. It was really interesting. Cleaning up afterwards, though, took until about 10:30 or so.

Last night was a Lay Disciple dinner, and it was somewhat sparsely attended. But the discussion was incredible, probably actually easier with that smaller group (maybe 12-15 of us?). We are talking about the roles of priest, teacher, abbot, lay disciples, and considering a new category tentatively being called oblate, because that's an existing term from the Catholic Church, and it's somewhat analogous. We're talking about making some changes to the organization's structure, which is always a little scary and involves a lot of uncertainty, etc. But change is inevitable. The abbots are aging (they're a year older than me, but that's still something to reckon with), and the sangha is growing, and those two factors alone will dictate change. In addition, there are a number of lay members who want to get more involved and deepen their practice, but don't necessarily want to ordain as priests. So we're talking about how to empower and formalize some sort of recognition of that, some sort of vows that make sense for lay people. The discussion was lively and open, and I enjoyed it, but it did make it difficult for me to drift right off to sleep last night. Some of us continued the discussion a bit over breakfast this morning.

Getting ready for the regular Sunday morning just seemed to be more difficult and complicated this morning. The breakfast discussion went a bit longer than usual, so I was later than usual getting over to the Zendo. Then some visitors showed up really early, and I gave them some instruction and orientation (they're from George Fox, and doing a class assignment -- we get several of those from various colleges in the area because we're known as being accessible and willing to do this). The regular chant leader had evidently called in sick, so I took that on, which was fine. Had to help set up for the audio recording.

About an hour after we were done with regular Sunday morning stuff, we had our first meeting of the Gay Tea, a group that met now and again last year, maybe every 6 weeks or so. A different fellow and I (who were both involved in the group last year, but the main facilitator is no longer with the temple) decided we wanted things to be more structured and focused, and so we met to figure that out, and I facilitated the meeting today. It went really well. There were about 10 of us, I think, and we had a really nice meeting, with lots of laughter, and a lot of agreement of what we want to do this year, which is to focus on discussing issues or topics of our lives from the perspective of BuddhaDharma. I think it will be a really good group.

After that group, I had more cleanup to do than usual for a Sunday, and finally got over here to the house for a brief break about 4pm (though I also noticed cleanup things that needed to be done here [sigh]). About 5pm I checked messages and found a message from my teacher Kyogen who is en route returning from New York, asking whether someone could pick him up from the airport. I called him on his cell phone, which he answered, and have been facilitating getting that to happen -- another member will actually pick him up, which is a relief to me, because I'm really getting tired. I would have done it, but this way I can probably go ahead and head for bed. It will be nice to have Kyogen back at least for a few days. He will head back to California next week, as his father is really not doing well, we hear.

At 5:30 I went to the Sangha Council meeting, which is a committee with Zen Community of Oregon that I've gotten involved with. It's been an interesting group in terms of exploring directions that that organization wants to take and empowering and deepening lay practice within the group. I've served as a source of information for what Dharma Rain does, and also as a bit of a liaison between the two groups.

It's only 8pm as I write this, and I had already decided not to try to sit with ZCO this evening, because I was thinking I needed to be waiting for a phone call on the temple cell phone I was carrying. Now it looks like I don't have to do that, so it should be possible to head for bed. Heaven knows I'm tired enough. On the other hand, I would like to type up notes from today's Gay Tea discussion while they're fresh, and get an e-mail listserve set up for that group.

The other thing happening is that I'm getting a part-time roommate, or maybe two. I've had the women's dorm to myself for some months now, which has been nice. And now we have two women planning to live here part-time (one of whom lived here full-time for a while). It looks like they can both keep some of their stuff in the room and maybe if they are here different nights can even sort of share the space with me. I like them both a lot, so that will be fun. If they are here on the same night, one of them can sleep upstairs in the sitting room or library -- we have sleeping pads up there for just that purpose, and it's not unusual at all for people to stay overnight there. How they decide who is where is up to them -- they can arm wrestle for it, I suppose.

Maybe I'll type up Gay Tea notes tomorrow. By the time I get this posted tonight, it will be time to head for bed. At least I don't have to set an alarm tomorrow morning -- day off, yay! Come to think of it, last Monday, I *did* set an alarm in order to take Kyogen to the airport early in the morning. So it will be nice to be able to sleep in, and I have the room to myself tonight, which will make that even easier. Of course, I've been getting up at 5am every day this week, so I suspect I will wake up then tomorrow as well. But maybe I won't have to *get* up right away.


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